Trying to reach your goals and wondering where faith comes in? Smaller yet more consistent splashes maintain the ripple effect more than a big splash every once in a while.
David was no stranger to caves. But this cave was more than a place of shelter for a tired shepherd boy. It was a place where he would learn resilience- how to relate to God in times of deep loss and confusion. How to steady his feet on God's promises and forge ahead with hope. Here are some ways we can learn, like David, to practice soul-care in the cave:
In the natural world, the quietest places are often the deepest places...the deep sea, deep into the woods, a deep cavern. These can be frightening places to explore, involving a fair amount of risk and uncertainty. In the same way, navigating silence in the coaching conversation may feel risky and uncertain. However, as coach and client embrace silence, we allow God to take us deeper into those places of discovery.
A little more persistence could be just what we need to make steady progress toward our goals and dreams. Often, the assumption is that doing more and going faster are the answers. Persistence with payoff, however, must be grounded in the substance of rest, reflection, and a good dose of play from time to time.
Read: Jeremiah 23:23-24
Scripture Focus: Genesis 28:15-16
Big life change can often bring about a sense of confusion or feeling lost. When the familiar things in life are replaced by the unfamiliar, God can seem distant and unconcerned. That was certainly how I was feeling two years ago after moving to the bustling metropolis of Istanbul, a city of over 15 million people.
Me, my wife and our two children had moved into a small apartment in a bustling part of the city. It was at the crossroads of two busy streets. The traffic noise was like nothing I had ever experienced, and it seemed to be constant throughout the day and night.
The call to prayer rang out from several different mosques in our neighborhood. I was feeling a bit lost and distant from God. I was thousands of miles away from the spacious house I had been living in for the past seven years, complete with a large garden and fruit trees. Unfamiliar surroundings. New sights and sounds. I was beginning to wonder, “Lord did I hear you right? Are you really in this move?”
Just then I heard God’s whisper through the scriptures, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:23). I realized that He was encouraging me to trust Him with the change and uncertainty I was feeling. I could never escape his sight and his presence, even in this faraway and unfamiliar place. In fact, during the days and months that followed, His nearness became more real to me than it ever would have been if I had chosen to stay in my comfortable surroundings.
Thought for the Day: God is nearby in faraway places.
Prayer: Lord, help us to trust you with the uncertainties of transition. In lonely and uncomfortable surroundings, may you be our constant companion and ever present help.
Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. – Matthew 7:24-25
Shifting sand. So much of life feels like that. Even now I’m sitting here waiting for a flight which has already been delayed 6 hours and will likely cause me to miss the next connection. Plans gone awry. Hopes left unfulfilled. Dreams delayed. Unwelcomed news.
Thankfully, there is a way to be grounded even while the rain pours and the earth beneath us shifts: Hearing the words of Christ and putting them into practice. The combination of hearing and doing is essential to success as it relates to what we build and how we weather the storms of life. Every person builds something in this life. But the lasting quality of what is constructed depends on how well we listen and how consistently we put those words into practice. This is what distinguishes wisdom from folly. I wonder…Am I being wise or foolish?
It's been said, "God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak." I like the way Jesus puts it, "He who has ears, let him hear." - Matthew 13:9
Attentive hearing has a way of preventing unfortunate situations which our hurried actions can create. We stop to hear (really hear) those around us. We pause to hear God. This invites wisdom into our actions, infuses meaning into the doing. Hearing well engages the heart ahead of the hands, which is essential to effective service. Hearing enables us to serve out of depth of conviction and personal character, bringing life and hope to those around us.
All these benefits to the practice of hearing, and I wonder why I’m so slow to learn. I guess there’s no better time like a flight delay to practice some hearing in the midst of waiting. Hopefully, I can become a little more wise in the process!
I still do a lot of writing the old fashioned way, by hand. I realize that must sound very archaic, and it's one of the reasons why most of my musings don't turn up in this much-neglected blog! I just completed my last entry for this year in my journal, simply because there were no more empty pages! Time to start a new one. The following contains my ramblings from today's entry as I reflected on the events of Matthew 4....
I wonder if the devil came in some physical form when he came to tempt Jesus...
I wonder if angels have ever come to "attend" to my needs...
I wonder if Zebedee was ever angry with Jesus for taking his two sons and leaving him with all the work...
I wonder (and pray) if there can be a new move of God's power to sweep over modern day Syria, multiplying thousands upon thousands of Christ followers...
It just seems fitting to close this journal with questions, since mostly that is what I have for my Lord. The events of this year have once again confirmed my inability to figure things out, to have the answers. Too often, my questions come out of frustration and doubt. I'm reminded, however, of the potential to flip these moments into wonder. The Advent season is a great time to begin this practice, to leave the questioning and complaining behind (Chances are, we won't find the answers anyway!) and turn them into wonder. My prayer today is for expressions of wonder to permeate my being as I celebrate the first advent of Christ and look forward to his glorious return.